GULF IN REVIEW
08 - 13 December 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 9 December—Manama hosted the 1st Middle East and North Africa International Religious Freedom Business Roundtable, organised by the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, where regional religious personalities and business leaders discussed religious freedom and tolerance in the workplace and pledged to support it. The event was attended by religious representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon and Jerusalem, among others.
Tuesday, 10 December—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa headed the Kingdom’s delegation to the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh. In reaction to the Summit, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, expressed his regret over Qatar’s ‘lack of seriousness’ to end the diplomatic rift with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt demonstrated by the sending of lower level representatives—Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to the main GCC leaders’ meeting, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Soltan Al-Muraikhi, to the Monday’s preparatory meeting of the GCC Foreign Ministers.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 10 December—Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah led the country’s delegation to the 40th session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh. During the meeting, the GCC leaders approved Kuwait’s nomination of its former Finance Minister, Dr Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf, as the next GCC Secretary General to succeed Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani on 1 April 2020.
Tuesday, 10 December—Kuwait hosted the 5th biannual Gulf Defence & Aerospace (GDA) exhibition and conference, under the patronage of Kuwaitt’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Naser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, where over 200 companies from all over the world showcased the latest technology in defence, aerospace, homeland security as well as safety and security. The three-day event also provided an opportunity for military representatives to exchange views and experiences.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 10 December—Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, led the Sultanate’s delegation to the 40th Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) leaders, accompanied by several other government officials, including Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister of Transport, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Futaisi, Minister of Legal Affairs, Dr Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Saidi.
Friday, 13 December—Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said returned to the Sultanate following undergoing some medical procedures in Belgium.
State of Qatar
Saturday, 7 December—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who was attending the Mediterranean Dialogues in Rome, discussed on the sidelines bilateral relations and the Libya dossier with Italy’s Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio. He also held talks with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Ghassan Salame.
Tuesday, 10 December—Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, led Qatar’s delegation to the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit instead of Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani amid rumours of possible reconciliation with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE that severed ties with Doha in 2017. Running against the expectations, Qatar’s Prime Minister did not have ‘any authority or instruction to end the dispute,’ according to Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
Thursday, 12 December—Iran’s Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, met with Commander of the Qatar Amiri Naval Forces, Major General Abdullah bin Hassan Al-Sulaiti, in Doha and invited Qatar to join, as an observer, the naval drills known as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), scheduled for later in December. The drills seek to enhance maritime cooperation of countries in the Indian Ocean and will be attended also by China and Russia. Earlier, Rear Admiral Khazandi landed in Islamabad to invite Pakistan to the exercise.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 10 December—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, chaired the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, attended by the other five GCC member states’ leaders and the GCC Secretary General, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. The final communiqué reaffirmed the countries’ interest in strengthening the GCC’s unity and appreciated Kuwait’s mediation efforts in the Qatar crisis. It also highlighted several initiatives needed to deepen GCC integration, including achieving economic unity by 2025 and military and security integration.
Wednesday, 11 December—The world’s largest oil producer, thee Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), was officially listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), marking its successful Initial Public Offering (IPO). Its shares began trading at 32 Saudi riyals and quickly rose by the 10% maximum daily limit to 35.2 Saudi riyals (9.38 US dollars). On Thursday, the shares value increased by another 4.5% and closed at 36.8 SAR (9.81 USD), valuing Saudi Aramco at 1.96 trillion USD.
Thursday, 12 December—Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, participated in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Morocco. On the sidelines, he held talks with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita. Prince Faisal bin Farhan praised Morocco’s efforts to safeguard the issue of Al-Quds Asharif in Palestine.
Thursday, 12 December—President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), Awwad Al-Awwad, accompanied by the head of the Saudi mission to the EU, Ambassador Saad bin Mohammed Al-Arifi, met with members of the European Union’s Political and Security Committee in Brussels. They discussed the Kingdom’s human rights initiatives, its fight against extremism and terrorism and ways to enhance Saudi-EU social and humanitarian cooperation.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 10 December—The UAE and South Korea inked a Memorandum of Understanding, launching the UAE-Korea Dialogue for 2020, aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation beyond economy and trade. The document was signed by UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, and South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Park Yang-woo, in Seoul.
Tuesday, 10 December—Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister, Ruler of Dubai, led the UAE’s delegation to the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit of the member countries’ leaders.
Wednesday, 11 December—The Abu Dhabi Ports, a major Abu Dhabi’s ports-operator, will invest 4 billion UAE dirham (AED) (approximately 1.09 billion USD) in expansion of the Khalifa Port. The project aims to increase the port’s container-handling capacity by 50% by the end 2020 amid growing trade volumes and will include the 2.2 billion AED development of South Quay and Khalifa Port Logistics and the 1.6 billion AED expansion of the Abu Dhabi Terminals.
Thursday, 12 December—The Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADDH) and the Hungary-based airline, Wizz Air, agreed in principle to jointly establish a lowcost airline in Abu Dhabi, the first Wizz Air’s airline outside Europe, which is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2020.